October 24, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

Does “Toy Story 3” success guarantee we’ll see a fourth film?

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: As expected, “Toy Story 3” retained the top spot at the box office in its second weekend, earning an impressive $59 million to push its overall domestic cume to an estimated $226.5 million. It edged out Adam Sandler’s ensemble comedy “Grown Ups” ($41 million) and crushed the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz combo comedy “Knight & Day” ($27 million since its Wednesday opening).

After two weeks, “Toy Story 3” is the seventh-highest-grossing Pixar film, but it soon will soar past “Cars” ($244M) and the second “Toy Story” film ($245M). It’s obviously setting its sights on “Finding Nemo,” which — at $339.7 million — holds the crown as Pixar’s top earner.

Can “Toy Story 3” top it? Absolutely. The bump in 3-D ticket prices helps. So does positive word of mouth on the sequel, and a veritable lack of family-friendly competition at the box office until Fox’s “Despicable Me” opens in July.

But does the critical and commercial success of “Toy Story 3” ensure that Pixar will go back to the well for a fourth installment?

The short answer? No. The long answer? It’s unlikely, but certainly possible.

It’s understandable why you’d assume Pixar would crank out another “Toy Story” to meet the obvious need of the general public. Audiences have turned out in droves for another Woody and Buzz adventure, and this film ends with both a satisfying conclusion and a potential story launch with new characters. Plus, studios often belly back up to the family-animation table when crumbs (cash) remains on the table. For the most recent example, see the fourth “Shrek” film. Actually, don’t.

But Pixar typically doesn’t “crank out” films to meet a stated need. If anything, the studio seems like it would pour its profits from the “Toy Story” franchise to develop new, different characters and franchises.

Except a quick peek at Pixar’s slate reveals a handful of sequels. “Cars 2” is on the production schedule for 2011. A second “Monsters Inc.” has been announced. The only original film Pixar reportedly has in development is Brenda Chapman’s “Brave,” about a feminine, Scottish archer voiced by Reese Witherspoon.

I want to believe Pixar will remain above the cash-grabbing sequel game. And yet, when the studio has caved in and created sequels to their most popular films (the “Toy Story” comedies), they’ve been excellent. So is sequel such a bad word in Emmeryville? “Cars 2” will go a long way to convincing us that Pixar treats each of its sequels as they would an original story. Right now, my faith is in the animation studio. They have earned it. But sooner or later, they’re going to have to start behaving like the rest of their mediocre competition.


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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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